a montana storyteller

You have heard the stories of The Little House on the Prairie. [Laughter.] This is real life – these are the true stories.

That is how our morning with Jewel began. My two great aunts had been discussing (and arguing) about their childhoods – had it been a hard or an easy life on the Lewis homestead? Jewel, an old classmate and collector of stories, was at grandma’s funeral, and they invited her over the next morning. The sisters planned to have Jewel settle the argument, but Jewel had her own plan, and I think storytellers generally get their own way.

Jewel has collected stories from people in town and has made themed story quilts to go along with them. Saturday morning she brought her “Homestead” quilt and shared its stories. Just a few were gathered around in the beginning, but before long she had drawn us all in. I wish I had a summer to record and transcribe Jewel telling stories – they truly capture life from a different time. Here are just two snippets from that morning (the first a comment about my grandma’s family, the second about another family in town).

There were two homesteads I wanted to be a part of – one was the Lewis homestead. They were so aristocratic. They held themselves just so when they walked and they always had custard pie. Not everyone had custard pie.

He won the farm in a poker game. After he and his wife moved out to the farm, she asked him what she could do to make his day better. He said, “You know those red high heels? If you could wear just those when you make my breakfast, I would be left with the best images in my mind while I worked all day.” Well, she knew how to negotiate, so she replied, “You know how the bacon splatters. If you make breakfast, I will sit at the table in nothing but those red high heels.”  And that is how their mornings went.

2 Replies to “a montana storyteller”

  1. I found your blog by searching for a photo depicting family storytelling. I love this post! And Jewel seems like quite the character, and one whom I would love to listen to more of her stories. The quilt is amazing, and what a great idea to help tell stories worth hearing.

  2. Debi – So glad that you stumbled across my blog! Jewel was quite a treasure. She died about a year after I wrote that post, which was such a loss. Very thankful that I got to meet her and listen to her tell stories when I did. Please stop by again!

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